Most people who are sports fans don’t get real excited about the beginning of a ball game, or soccer, or a track event, or a car or motorcycle race.  But when the finish is near, then they get excited, real excited.  And if the competition is close, then the excitement is even greater.  Sometimes it gets to be a real nail-biter, if you know what I mean, especially if you don’t know if your team is going to win or not.  The heart starts pounding, you’re sitting on the edge of your seat, or maybe you can’t even sit still.  For those moments of time, everything else in life takes a back seat.  You forget all about being hungry or thirsty, or what is going on with your job, or anything else.  What’s going on in the world isn’t even on your mind.  It’s all about the game.
    After the game is over, real life kicks in again.  It’s back to the daily whatever.  Your mind goes back to whatever your concerns were before the game, making a living, paying the bills, maybe a marital problem, or a health concern, or a wayward child.  It’s your life, you fill in the blanks.
    For those of you who are married, think back to the week before the wedding, really, was there much of anything else you remember except anticipation of the wedding?  Do you remember what you were doing at your job that week, or exactly what you were working on?  What to eat or what to wear really wasn’t getting your attention, was it?  Can you recall what was preached at church the week before you got married?  Or was your mind somewhere else?  Uh-huh, just like I thought, you don’t remember.  That’s ok, because getting married was all you thought about.  There just wasn’t anything else on your plate that week.  Been there, done that.
    Maybe for you, it wasn’t getting married.  Perhaps it was buying your first home.  Everything you thought about concerned getting that house, filling out paperwork, getting the financing in order, packing boxes, finding a mover, thinking about colors for your new home.  Yes, picking out colors can be pretty exciting.  Dreaming the dream, and finally getting to see the fulfillment of it consumes every thought, doesn’t it?  With stuff like that going on, it’s hard to remember even what you had for breakfast.
    Maybe you’re in college and it’s exam week, suddenly nothing else is important but cramming for the finals, and life pretty much stops for everything else but studying, because why?  You want to finish well.  You’ve come too far to mess up now.  That brings me to today’s subject: finishing well.
    Have you ever noticed how someone starts a job as a young person, and they get all excited in the beginning and they work so hard to succeed?  But somewhere along the line, it’s no longer an “adventure”, but a “job”, and a pretty dreary one at that.  No longer do they get up Monday morning all excited about starting another work week.  Rather, it’s “hurry up Friday”.  Something changed, the first love was lost.  Now, they can’t wait to retire.  Many years pass, and excitement builds as retirement gets closer and guess what?  Retirement week comes, and they can’t think of anything else, being all fired up for the finish.  But then what?  What if they haven’t saved up for retirement?  What if they got to that day only to find the pension they had looked forward to was no longer there?
   As I said in the beginning, nobody gets too excited about the start of anything, but the finish is everything.  However, with some people, their walk with God is just the opposite, they got real excited at the start, but after a while the excitement died down, and it was back to business as usual.  What does that have to do with “finishing well”?   Everything, believe me.
   There have been so many people who start off well, only to fall away later on.  The Lord Jesus spoke of that in the parable of the sower.  Let’s look soberly at that parable, for only one in four came to bear fruit.  Do you want to be the one that brings forth fruit?  Then consider this:
Mat 13:18  Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
Mat 13:19  When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
Mat 13:20  But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
Mat 13:21  Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
Mat 13:22  He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
Mat 13:23  But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
    This is a pretty serious matter in my opinion.  Here we see four people who received the “seed”, which is the Word of God.  All four people heard the same thing, and had the same opportunity to bring forth fruit, but only one did!  Why was there such a “crop failure”?  Simple, only one of the four placed enough value on the seed to guard it and nourish it to fruit.  And fruit doesn’t happen in the beginning, but at the last of the growing season.
    This life is your “growing season”, and it’s the only growing season you will ever get.  That means if you’re going to bring forth fruit for the Kingdom of God, you have only one chance, and you’re living it right now!  Every man, woman and child sometime in their lifetime is given “the seed”, the Word of God.  Nobody will stand before God and say they didn’t have their chance, for God will see to it that everyone is given the seed.  But what will they do with it?  More importantly, what will YOU do with it?
    If you’re the one by the wayside, that means you’re not paying attention to what God is saying to you, and you really don’t care to understand, either,  and the devil will come and take the Word that was sown.  Which means?  No fruit.  No place in the Kingdom of God for you.  In the game of Monopoly, that means, “go straight to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect $200”.  You get the idea.

    If you’re the one who received the seed in stony places, you heard and received the Word gladly, but when you got rejected by your friends and family for becoming a Christian, you turned away and became offended at the Word.  For you, pleasing people was more important that pleasing God.  Again, “go straight to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect $200”  Sorry, no room in heaven for you either.
    If you’re the one who received the Word among thorns, well, you’re the one who heard and received the Word, but the cares of this world overburdened you, and you BECAME unfruitful.  You didn’t START OUT unfruitful, but over time, the cares of the world, making money, pursuing your own pleasures and purposes, choked out the Word of God working in your life.  And you, like the other two, did not finish well.  Your place will not be found in heaven, sorry.  Go straight to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.  Was it really worth it?
    If you’re the one who heard the Word of God, gave it first place in your life, guarded it with all your heart and carefully nourished it, you brought forth fruit for the Kingdom of God, some thirty, some sixty, and some a hundredfold.  Mat 25:21  His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.   YOU HAVE FINISHED WELL!!!!!!
    Now, examine the above four scenarios.  In which do you want to end up?  What do you intend to do to accomplish that?  God has given you the Seed, now it’s up to you to give it good ground to grow in.  After all, it’s not how you start, but how you finish.  And ten thousand years from now I promise you, finishing well with this life will be REAL IMPORTANT!  Make that choice right now, get down on your knees and if you aren’t right with God RIGHT NOW, then get right.  It doesn’t matter how right you were with God ten years ago, where are you NOW with Him?  You’re closer to the finish line than you were yesterday, perhaps at the very finish line, nobody has a guarantee of even another heartbeat, only God knows.  But only YOU determine how you will finish, either hearing WELL DONE, or being “well-done”.  Know what I mean?  It’s your choice, choose well, and finish well.